Larry Scott has never lived outside of Florida.
That is, until now.
Butch Jones was able to pluck Scott from the sandy Miami beaches and relocate him to the seemingly interminable Smoky Mountains after hiring the former Hurricanes assistant as the tight ends at Tennessee on Monday. The newest addition to Jones' staff has spent the better part of a decade mining recruiting connections in the Sunshine State as an assistant with South Florida and Miami, but he also has head coaching experience to boot.
Scott was named interim coach of the Hurricanes after Al Golden was fired this season, leading the team to a 4-2 record that culminated in a Sun Bowl berth.
"In our profession, there's very few times you have the opportunity to work at a place like this and a conference like this and with a head coach like this," Scott said in a teleconference Wednesday. "I'm fired up ... We kind of know what this place is all about watching it from afar."
Now he'll have a chance to be a part of what Tennessee has been building from the inside after competing against what Jones and his staff have built. Scott, known for his affable personality among players and recruits, is joining a program that prides itself on a family environment that attracts recruits from all areas of the country. In the few instances when Scott has gone up against the Vols in recruiting for a player, he noted that atmosphere as a selling point he wants to continue.
“The family atmosphere stuck out to those kids,” Scott said of their reaction to Tennessee. “They were in different places and they were connected. That’s when you know in recruiting that something right is being done, when guys that really don’t know each other are connected through a bond like is being developed here at Tennessee. If you can do that in recruiting, you know it’s happening in the building and that’s the formula for being successful.”
If anyone knows how to be successful at recruiting, it's Scott. The former South Florida assistant helped usher the best stretch of recruiting in USF history, including a Top 25 class in 2009, before leaving to become the tight ends coach at Miami in 2013. Recruiting for him is all about being natural and personable, a combination Scott learned well growing up in Sebring, Florida, under a big family tree. He credits his upbringing amongst a wide array of uncles, cousins, neices and nephews — a similar family atmosphere to the one Tennessee is fostering for its recruits — as to how he has become successful at connecting with recruits.
"I think it just goes back to that," Scott said. "I think the minute you walk into the room and you can relate to all different walks of life and people, no matter what region of the country they live in, no matter who they are, what they are, their financial status, any of those things. When you like spending time with people, being a people person is what has helped me because it allows me to be natural. There's no selling. There's really nothing in a book I think I've ever used as a strategy to get a kid. I just go in and be natural, be who I am, what I am and what I'm all about, and what we are as a program."
It helps that Scott will now be enticing players to come to a trending SEC program with state-of-the-art facilties, an enormous fan base and an upward national trajectory. With that as his product, Scott hopes to continue his recruiting prowess and further his reputation as one of the more connected coaches in the business.
"The biggest thing in recruiting is what are you selling," Scott said. "When you have a product like the University of Tennessee and the resources and the tradition and all those great things that it has, it makes it a real sell. I don't want to necessarily say it's something that you have to fathom or make up, it makes it very real and tangible. When you can present that in an effective manner and a kid in a family can receive it that way, it gives you a heck of an opportunity."
Transitioning from recruiting homes to Haslam Field shouldn't be much of a problem for Scott. He has experience as a high school offensive coordinator and also shaped a tight end corps at Miami that finished the 2014 season with 52 receptions and 833 receiving yards. Scott said he hasn't had the opportunity to take an in-depth look at the players he'll be tasked with developing in 2016, choosing instead to wait until he can meet them on a personal level.
"I love coaching tight ends simply because it's the position that's connected to everything," Scott said. "From a protection standpoint, run game, pass routes, they're connected to everything. I like making them feel real good about themselves because, next to the quarterback, they have to be the next smartest guys on the football field."
When the tight ends are able to finally meet their new coach, he won't have any problem connecting with them.
It's just what he does.
"It's very real. It's passionate," Scott told InsideTennessee about his love affair with football. "Everything that really has been good to me and good for me that the good Lord has blessed me with has come as a result of being a part of this game in some way, shape, form or fashion. When I'm coaching or when I'm around the guys, it's easy because it's natural and because it's real and because it's something that I'm very passionate about. It's something that I'll be forever indebted to, this game."